Kabul, Afghanistan - Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Afghanistan released the implementation results of a two-year food fortification project in Afghanistan. The document, released during a stakeholders' workshop, highlights the achievements, challenges, and lessons learned during the life of the project.
USAID's $9.7 million commitment aimed to increase availability and access to essential vitamins and minerals-also known as micronutrients-through fortified edible oil, wheat flour, and iodized salt by laying a strong foundation for a sustainable fortification program.
More than 70 percent of the energy intake of Afghans is grain-sourced, and an average Afghan consumes around 400 grams of wheat flour bread daily-three times higher than the average world consumption.
"This project is of critical importance," said USAID Health Office Director in Afghanistan, William Slater. "Many people in Afghanistan suffer from micronutrient deficiencies and to focus on increasing access to fortified foods, is an effective approach to combating malnutrition."
The USAID, GAIN, and MoPH partnership helped reduce taxes on premix imports from 32 percent to 2 percent, enhanced the capacity of the Ministry of Public Health central food laboratory, and facilitated the endorsement of Afghanistan's food fortification regulation, which now makes food fortification mandatory.
"Micronutrient fortification of staple food is one of the most effective ways to prevent micronutrient malnutrition", said Greg Garrett, Director of Large Scale Food Fortification at GAIN. "In the past two years, USAID, GAIN, and the Government of Afghanistan worked together through an agreed action plan to advance the food fortification agenda, through advocacy efforts, legislation and private sector participation, as well as increasing demand for fortified food in the Afghanistan market."
With almost $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. USAID partners with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure economic growth led by the country's private sector, to establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and to provide basic health and education services for all Afghans.
GAIN is an international organization launched at the UN Special Session on Children in 2002, in order to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition.
GAIN acts as a catalyst-building alliances of governments, business and civil society-to find and deliver solutions to the complex problem of malnutrition. Programs are on track to reach over a billion people with improved nutrition by 2020.
GAIN focuses its efforts on children, girls and women, because providing these groups with sustainable, nutritious diets is crucial to ending the cycle of malnutrition.
Development Outreach and Communication Office USAID/AFGHANISTAN